The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Columns

June 21, 2014

Nancy Vaughan: In praise of millennials

Recently, Kim Williams returned from a meeting with a question for me: What would I think of United Way sponsoring a truck pull? My answer? “What is a truck pull?” She explained that it’s an event in which a group of people tie a heavy rope to a semi-tractor trailer and see how far they can pull it.

Apparently there are significant numbers of people who get excited about this. Admittedly, I am not one of them. However, as I told Kim, if a group of people believe this is an exciting way to build community engagement and excitement, who am I to disagree? So, you will be hearing more later this summer about our inaugural truck pull and it is, in fact, shaping up to be an event that even I am getting excited about. (I will be cheering, not pulling).

Similar conversations are becoming common around here — new ideas originating from a generation whose impact is beginning to be noticed across Madison County. They are called millennials, defined roughly as those born between the years of 1980 and 1999. Personally, this baby boomer finds millennials a delight. I have two millennial children, and over the past several years we have enjoyed working with interns, AmeriCorps VISTAs (young people who dedicate a year of service to our organization) and young staff.

The recent Anderson Brewfest was organized by millennials and they were a significant presence at this event to the surprise of many, which tells me that we have a lot to gain by listening to their ideas and encouraging their leadership.

According to the generation-defining folks, millennials have developed work characteristics and tendencies from doting parents, structured lives, and contact with diverse people. They seek leadership, and even structure, from their older and managerial coworkers, but expect them to draw out and respect their ideas.

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